Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2003/ 19 Shevat 5763

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More dollars than votes


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The announcement a few weeks ago that the Republicans will hold their 2004 presidential convention in Manhattan not surprisingly cheered local politicians and business leaders in the city. The free-spending convergence of delegates promises a short-term boost to a flagging economy; too bad the massive gathering isn't on tap for this summer.

But the notion that George W. Bush will increase his chances of winning New York's electoral votes in the election is silly. Unless the president is landslide-bound, like Ronald Reagan in '84, the state can be relied upon to land in the Democratic column, even if the nominee is a stiff like John Kerry. Joe Conason, in contrast to other pundits, was correct in his Jan. 13 New York Observer column when he wrote: "[L]et's hope that Mr. Bush won't be too disappointed when he loses New York again anyway."

But aside from the obvious symbolic value of choosing New York, the Republican National Committee didn't really have a choice, considering the two other contenders, Tampa and New Orleans, had zero upside for the party. The Florida city would've put too much attention on Gov. Jeb Bush and the speculation that he'll run for president in 2008. As for Louisiana, the timing isn't right for a coronation in the Deep South, given the mainstream media's conviction that all Republicans are racists.

On Jan. 7, the New York Times concluded a cheerleading editorial with this stupid paragraph: "The Democrats, in choosing Boston, ignored the history of their party's winning streak with presidential candidates selected in New York. The Republicans obviously hope that if they can make it here, they'll make it everywhere." At least the edit's headline wasn't "It's Sinatra's World, We Just Live in It."

Conason

The Post's John Podhoretz, on the same day, made an excellent point in speculating that one benefit of the convention is that Gov. Pataki will be under pressure to get off his butt and start making progress on rebuilding downtown. He writes: "Bush will not want to appear in New York with Ground Zero still a gaping hole and ludicrous arguments still going on about whether or not there should be an office building here that looks like a tic-tac-toe board. We should all thank [G-d] for this pressure, because so far there's been no indication of the governor's seriousness of purpose on this matter."

Podhoretz ends on a ludicrous note-fantasizing that Rudy Giuliani might replace Dick Cheney as Bush's runningmate at the convention, as if the GOP base would countenance such a switch-but he's right on target about the shameful dithering on the reconstruction of the financial district.

SEE NO EVIL

The New York Times, which has ceded its "paper of record" title to the Washington Post, is in a state of denial. Flummoxed by November's midterm elections, flabbergasted by President Bush's activist agenda and experiencing internal strife in its own newsroom, the daily is quickly drifting to the moribund politics of the Village Voice. Now that Frank Rich has been dispatched to the arts pages, one can reasonably expect the Voice's paranoid James Ridgeway to fill the former's biweekly op-ed slot.

A Times editorial on Jan. 20 demonstrated just how out-of-touch Howell Raines and Gail Collins have become in the last year. The offensive edit, headlined "A Stirring in the Nation," begins: "A largely missing ingredient in the nascent debate about invading Iraq showed up on the streets of major cities over the weekend as crowds of peaceable protesters marched in a demand to be heard. They represented what appears to be a large segment of the American public that remains unconvinced that the Iraqi threat warrants the use of military force at this juncture."

That the demonstrations were organized by ANSWER, an adjunct of the Stalinist Workers World Party, is not mentioned in the editorial. And while it's probably true the majority of protesters were, as the Times describes, "young college students to grayheads [isn't that ageism?] with vivid protest memories of the 60's," an allegedly objective newspaper would've also noted the not-insignificant anti-American sentiment at the rallies.

Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan's eponymous website shows some pictures from San Francisco. He writes: "Routine posters equating Bush and Cheney with Hitler. KKK-style slogans: 'I want YOU to die for Israel. Israel Sings Onward Christian Soldiers.' My favorite: 'The Difference Between Bush and Saddam is that Saddam was Elected.'"

And Salon, in its report on the San Francisco activities, reported the following on Monday: "Considerable creative energy went into some attacks on the president. One large [sign] read 'Stop the Fourth Reich-Visualize Nuremberg/Iraq.' On the other side were rows of doctored photos of all the top-ranking Bush administration officials wearing Nazi uniforms and officers' caps, each with an identifying caption. Bush was identified as 'The Angry Puppet' and 'Mind-controlled Slave/Pro-life Executioner.' Cheney: 'The Fuhrer, Already in His Bunker.' Powell: 'House Negro-Fakes Left, Move Right.' Rice: 'Will Kill Africans for Oil.'"

It might not make "All the News That's Fit to Print" that the Times is at least vaguely anti-Semitic, but is Raines throwing his weight behind Americans who believe Bush is the reincarnation of Hitler?

TIERNEY'S SMALL VICTORY

It's rare when a New York Times news article deviates from executive editor Howell Raines' vociferously anti-Bush agenda, but reporter John Tierney managed just that on Jan. 19 in a piece about the president's tax-cut proposal. Don't be surprised if Tierney leaves the Times within the six months, weary of his stay in Raines' penalty box.

Tierney writes: "The aisles were packed at Politics and Prose, a bookstore in one of America's more affluent neighborhoods, when a billionaire's father arrived to promote his book calling for higher taxes on the rich. The customers there to buy copies of 'Wealth and Our Commonwealth' loudly applauded William H. Gates as he denounced greedy plutocrats and declared the estate tax to be 'the finest tax conceived by man.'

"A quick survey of these book buyers from the Chevy Chase and Forest Hills sections of Washington found precisely zero percent in favor of the White House's proposed tax cuts... The closest encouraging word for the Bush plan came a few doors up Connecticut Avenue at Besta Pizza, a tiny carryout shop owned by an Egyptian immigrant, Tarek Zahow, who commutes to his 70-hour-a-week job from a much less upscale neighborhood 15 miles out of town.

"'Of course I'm for tax cuts,' Mr. Zahow said. He said he supported the White House's proposal, even though he realized the affluent would receive most of the money, and favored eliminating the estate tax even if it applied only to millionaires.

"'I'm nowhere near a million in assets, but I might be someday,' he said."

I wonder if Zahow will be seated next to Laura Bush at next week's State of the Union address.

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JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press (www.nypress.com). Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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